‘I think it’s a little bit underhand’ – Former City manager criticises Leeds boss for spying on Championship rivals
Former Norwich City manager Alex Neil has criticised the ‘bizarre’ behaviour of Marcelo Bielsa, after the Leeds boss admitted he has had training sessions of every Championship club watched this season.
The Scot, who led the Canaries to promotion at Wembley in 2015 via the Championship play-off final, is now in charge of Preston North End.
Managers around the country are sure to be asked about the unusual situation at pre-match press conference during the next 24 hours – with Neil pulling no punches in his assessment ahead of North End’s trip to QPR on Saturday.
“It’s bizarre and if you ask any manager in this league or any other league ‘would you mind that the opposition manager is going to come and watch your training session before the game starts?’, the answer would be yes,” Neil told the Lancashire Evening Post.
“I think it’s a little bit underhand. People will say it’s using initiative to get an advantage but I wouldn’t say it’s in the best will of the game.
“They’ve chose to do what they’ve chosen to do and I don’t know how you govern that because every training ground is different.
“As you’re fully aware we’ve got a path at the side of ours so he doesn’t need to hide in the bushes he can just stand at the side. “How do you stop someone walking down the side of the pitch? I think a lot’s been made of nothing. It should be a wee wrap on the knuckles and a ‘listen, don’t do that again’.”
Preston have faced Bielsa’s current Championship leaders twice this season, beating the Yorkshire side 2-0 at Elland Road in the League Cup but losing in the league at Leeds three weeks later.
The former Argentina and Chile boss has made headlines around the country after an extraordinary press briefing to explain his analysis and scouting network, in light of his admission of spying on a Derby training session the day before last Friday’s 2-0 win for Leeds.
“It does amaze me that everyone’s saying it’s a masterclass,” Neil continued. “Every single team in this division will be doing analysis. Every single team will have watched the opposition, every single team will have dossiers drawn up on players, fixtures, team line-ups. That’s pretty par for the course.
“What’s happened is that the general public, and some of the media, think we turn up and play five-a-side and go home and then when they do get a wee taster of what we actually do day-to-day and get exposed to it, it’s ground-breaking.
“Football’s moved on leaps and bounds in the last decade in terms of sports science and analysis. To get a PowerPoint presentation put together about stuff that is pretty basic in football to be honest, and the amazement that it’s been met with, is quite funny to people in football.”